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About Irish Travellers

Irish Travellers are an indigenous minority who historical sources confirm have been part of Irish society from at least the 1600’s.  Travellers long shared history, cultural values, language, customs and traditions make them a distinctive group which has resulted in widespread sterotyping and discrimination. 


Irish Travellers suffer widespread ostracism this and other factors have been shown to contribute to high levels of mental health problems among the community. The All Ireland Traveller Health Survey found their suicide rate to be six times the national average, accounting for a shocking 11%of Traveller deaths.


Members of the Traveller community were also found to have poorer general health, higher rates of disability and significantly lower levels of education as compared to the general population, with seven out of ten Irish Travellers educated only to primary level or lower.


Armagh Roma and Traveller Support is a non-governmental organisation comprised of Travellers and members of the majority population working in partnership in the Armagh City and the surrounding catchment area 

Since 1991 Armagh Roma and Traveller Support has an established track record in innovative and ground-breaking work using a collective community development approach to addressing Traveller issues and promoting Traveller rights.



Facts and figures

  • First formed in the 1980’s

  • Became constituted in 1991

  • 80+ families living in Armagh and the surrounding catchment area

  • Names local to Armagh: McDonagh, Maughan, and Cawley.



The core part of our work is a family support service providing:

Advice/ information/ support and advocacy on key issues including;

  • Primary health care

  • Welfare rights

  • Housing

  • Education

  • Employment & Training

  • Immigration

Community Development

Men's Group

  • Hidden harm

  • Physical activity

  • Mental health

  • Driving theory

  • Informal learning programmes

  • English classes

Women's Group

  • Hidden harm

  • Nutrition

  • Mental health,

  • First Aid and Paediatric First Aid,

  • Physical health

  • Cook-it programme and personal development. 

  • Driving theory

  • Informal learning programmes

  • English classes

The Youth Group's programmes include;

  • Single identity programmes

  • Life skills

  • Personal development

  • Anti-bullying 

  • Mental health 

  • Good Relations Programmes

Young Women’s Group

  • Personal development

  • Cook it!

  • Nutrition

  • Mental health

  • Single identity programmes


Traveller Culture Awareness Training & Cultural Diversity Training

Travellers experience poorer health than the general populations. Irish Travellers have a reduced life expectancy: Traveller men’s life expectancy is 62 years which is 15 years less than men in the general population and Traveller women’s life expectancy is 70, 11 years less than women in the general population, All Ireland Traveller Health Study 2010, (AITHS).


The AITHS informs us that heart disease and stroke accounted for 25% of Traveller Deaths, cancer 19%, lung disease 13% and suicide 11%. Of those tested in the 12 months of the (AITHS) 25% were diagnosed with having high cholesterol and 33% with high blood pressure. This study also highlighted that Travellers have a 15% higher rate of smoking compared to the general population.


It is incumbent on public services to tackle these inequalities in health outcomes. However, it is recognised that they are multifaceted in origin and influenced by the social determinants of health, but they are certainly linked to the challenges of discrimination and prejudice which are very real problems facing the Traveller Community today. 


There is an increasing awareness that public services need to respect the cultural and ethnic identity of Travellers when they access services. This has been reflected by ARTS Traveller Cultural Awareness training programmes which have been attended by front line staff from across the public services.

The objectives of the training are to:

  1. To raise awareness of Traveller needs and issues 

  2. To provide information on Traveller culture and how this impacts the use of services 

  3. To identify the main barriers experienced by Travellers in accessing services

  4. To identify ways of moving forward to improve access and uptake of services

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